FashioNXT creates innovative fashion experiences and the creative edge in lifestyle technology.


UpNXT Judge Anne Bocci

UpNXT Judge Anne Bocci

UpNXT is FashioNXT’s emerging designer accelerator. This competition has been going on for several years and is a great way to build awareness of local emerging designers. I had the opportunity to interview Anne Bocci, a judge of UpNxt. Anne owns a boutique in downtown Portland and has always looks to promote emerging designers! She’s found that UpNxt is a great way to do just that!

Here is what she said about FashioNXT:

You have been the judge of UpNXT for several years, what collection has been your favorite?

There have been so many favorites through the years, but Michelle Lesniak stands out in my mind. When Michelle stood before the panel with her rolling rack of designs (back then she labeled herself Geeky Chic) it was obvious to me that she had a unique voice with her originality and craftsmanship.  And seeing her pieces up close and touching the fabrics, we could see she took the time to finish her details impeccably.  It was like finding a gem. On that day, her name was burned in my mind and I made a mental note that her jackets would look awesome in our shop.  Michelle didn’t happen to win that UpNxt competition but she did go on to win the world-famous show, Project Runway. Back then, we did get in her jackets (the ones she showed the judges at the time) and they sold out immediately. We have loved Michelle and been supportive of her since that first day years ago and offer her beautiful designs in our shop today.

What advice would you give to the 2016 contestants of UpNXT?

The first thing is to bring something to the table that shows your voice.

And in the end, originality and quality are the basis of good sellable design.

The other thing is that it’s all about what you do with yourself regardless of the immediate win or not. Some contestants have gone on to win national shows or gained experience in other countries. This is a platform to showcase yourself and move on from that. Take away what you need and make yourself grow.

Has judging this competition changed the way you view the styles you bring into your boutique?

There’s always the issue of whether or not it will it sell. There are talented designers who concentrate on very editorial designs, and those are what make for entertaining runway shows, but when it comes to wearability and whether it will sell, that’s where buying comes into play. The other thing is storeowners are so busy, and it’s just important to get your pieces in front of their face. And the look and feel of the designs need to be a match for the feel of the store.

Keep up with the FashioNXT blog to see other stores from other winners and judges! If you would like more information about the previous participants or about UpNXT in general check out this link:

Applications for the 2016 UpNXT emerging designer accelerator are available now; it is a great opportunity for brand exposure and growing your business. Apply here if you’re interested:

Tickets are also on sale for the 2016 FashioNXT: The Shows. Visit this website for more information: